How to Find Cheap European Airfare

How to Get Around Europe on a Budget: It's Super Easy!

Girl at airport with backpack
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If you're planning a trip to Europe, you're in luck: there are dozens of budget airlines on the continent and that makes flying from city to city extremely affordable. Before you buy student airfare for your big Europe trip, check out the many airlines offering super cheap one way European airfare first. How about a $5 airfare from London to Rome? Add taxes and fees and you're looking at airfare of $40.00 or less.

Discount European Airfares Comparison

Take a look at this comparison of European airfare from the two main European budget airlines against student airfare finder, Student Universe (fares subject to change, of course; random Thursday was used).

London to Paris (one-way airfares):

  • Ryanair
    • Fare: $2.28
      Taxes and fees: $26.87
      Total: $29.15
  • Easyjet
    • Fare: $31.42
      Taxes and fees: $8.35
      Total: $39.77
  • Student Universe
    • Fare: $243.54
      Taxes and fees: $53.90
      Total: $297.44

So, what's the catch? 

Discount European Airlines Downsides

Let's be honest: budget airlines in Europe don't pamper you. Don't expect in-fli

Budget European airlines don't pamper you - don't expect in-flight meals, free drinks or pre-booked seats with a cheap European airfare. Instead, you'll be charged for all of those and more. To get around this, simply stock up on snacks once you're past airport security and accept that you may not get to sit where you'd like on the plane.

 

A serious downside of budget airlines for me is that they usually utilize airports in really remote locations. You'll often end up landing as much as an hour away from the centre of town and, in some cases, in an entirely different country! It's definitely worth doing your research if this is the case -- you may find that paying the extra to fly into a more central airport works out to be less than the transportation you'd need to take from the other one.

 

Another downside is that budget airlines in Europe are subject to flight cancellations more than the major carries, and delays are very likely. In this case, meal and hotel vouchers may not be provided to you. 

Some budget European airlines allow you very little luggage and charge exorbitantly if you exceed baggage limits. Cheap European airfare king Ryanair, for instance, limits checked baggage and you'll be charged around $9 per pound for any excess; the airline also advises against checking sporting goods such as bicycles and snowboards -- they will accept items like these for a charge of around $32, but be advised that the carrier usually accepts no responsibility for them. Ryanair's got serious checked luggage charges; plus, they've added up to $8 in credit card fees. And know that Ryanair's flight insurance only applies to UK residents -- don't pay for it if you live elsewhere. The key to a cheap Ryanair flight, then, is carry on bags, paying cash, and reading the fine print when you book.

For the most part, though, budget airlines in Europe are not all that different to budget airlines elsewhere in the world. If you can handle them at home, you can handle them there. 

Discount European Airlines Upsides

Sure, you may have to deal with a pretty crappy flying experience, but in my opinion, it's totally worth it to save so much money on your flights!

And saving money on flights means you'll have more to spend on fun activities, like a fancy dinner in Paris, an eating tour in Barcelona, or an island hopping trip in Greece. 

How to Find Cheap European Airfare

It's actually incredibly simple! One of the easiest ways to pull up a full list of budget airlines in order to compare their prices for a certain route is to use an aggregator. An Aggregator is a website where you'll enter in your travel destination and dates and they'll grab prices from hundreds of airlines to find out who has the best deal. It saves you time and money! 

Skyscanner is my first port of call, because they rarely let me down. The website is easy to use, their prices are basically always the cheapest ones you'll find on the web, because they check so many airlines, and they're great if you don't have fixed plans either.

One of my favourite features is getting to search for flights to an entire country rather than a city, or, if you really don't know where you want to go, searching for flights to "everywhere" to see what comes up. 

Adioso is another one of my favourites and immediately where I head if Skyscanner isn't giving me the prices I was hoping for. One of the main differences between the two websites is that Adioso gives you a much wider range of search options. You can search for flights between two specific dates, and you can even search for flights to "somewhere warm" or "somewhere within five hours". 

I rarely ever use any other websites, because these two cover the vast majority of budget airlines in Europe. So if you're planning a trip to this great continent, be sure to research these cheap airlines before you jump for the student fares! 

 

This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff